The members of CONTEND UP Diliman express their sincerest congratulations to all the graduates of Batch 2018! As you wear your sablay proudly today, do not forget the duty and responsibility of the iskolar ng bayan, which we carry even after graduation: SERVE THE PEOPLE!
It is during your stay at the University that free education, for all its shortcomings, was granted to the iskolar ng bayan. You know very well that the free education that you enjoyed was not given to you on a silver platter. Generations of iskolar ng bayan, with their teachers and University workers, fought hard and unremmittingly for you to enjoy this right today.
In your time, our nation saw the unfolding of our popular President as a dictator and tyrant. You witnessed how President Duterte rehabilitated the image of the Marcoses by allowing the dictator to be interned at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and whitewashing the Marcos family’s crimes against the people. You joined thousands of other students, and our people, who immediately took to the streets to protest such treachery and historical revisionism.
You were in UP when fake news, crafted by reactionary elements to immobilize the people’s movements, became an epidemic, and you used your critical skills to unravel and discredit them, contributing to mass awareness and protest.
In your stay in the University, you witnessed the unparalleled exodus of Lumad, Moros, and other national minorities from of their communities because of militarization and human rights abuses. As they marched to Manila during Lakbayan, you welcomed them to our University and supported their cause. You listened to their stories of repression and struggle. Some of your fellow iskolar ng bayan even went to Lumad communities to volunteer as teachers.
As Duterte’s tyranny intensified, as the war on drugs dragged on, as thousands of suspected drug users—some of them young people like you—were killed daily, as Malacanang forced its way into controlling the judicial branch of the government, as President Duterte indulged on insulting women and his minions busied themselves defending him, as the peace talks between the government and CPP/NDF/NPA broke down, as the President threatened to burn the Lumad schools, as our government failed to defend our sovereignty against imperialist incursion of China, you did not remain callous and indifferent. The iskolar ng bayan noisily went out on massive walkouts and strikes that caught the attention of the President. You stood courageously amidst the social media vilification of UP students. Undeterred, you continued to stage more organized and bigger walkouts to denounce martial law in Mindanao, the killing of poor suspected drug users, and the harassment of human rights defenders.
As your teachers, we are proud that you are graduating today—because we know that you will continue the struggle that you have advanced while studying in our University. If young people today are busy pursuing success in their careers, you should pursue the welfare of our people, especially the poor, the farmers, contractual workers, and urban poor who are the hardest hit by the anti-people policies of the US-Duterte regime. You must build your career and achieve professional growth while fulfilling your mission as proud children of our University.
In your struggle to be the best in the profession you have chosen, never lose sight of our nation’s future. A prosperous and just future is your gift to the next generations of iskolar ng bayan. It may not be your task to finish the struggle, but you also do not have the right to shirk from it. This is the time you will step out into the world—but it is a world fraught with crisis, and UP has taught you how to respond: merge your strength and voice with that of the people!
Mabuhay ang mga Iskolar ng Bayan!
Iskolar ng Bayan, serve the people!
Fight for a nationalist, scientific, and mass-oriented education!
Volunteer for Lumad schools!
Stop the militarization of Lumad schools and communities!
Save our schools, stop Lumad killings!